A Critical Analysis of the Sources of Reading Recovery: An Empiricist Perspective

Abstract

This discussion of the sources of Reading Recovery presents the results of an investigation into whether or not this relatively costly, tutoring remedial reading program, designed for primary-grade students, is based on relevant experimental evidence as to how these students best learn to read. The general finding of the study was that Reading Recovery principles and practices are not based firmly on the experimental evidence that supports the so-called “bottom-up” model of children's reading development. To the contrary of Reading Recovery, Marie Clay, favors so-called “top-down” principles and models of reading instruction. Reading Recovery uses several empirically unverified procedures to decide which students are admitted to its tutoring sessions, to determine the progress in reading rehabilitation these tutees make, and to judge when students should be discontinued from Reading Recovery tutelage. The details on the shortcomings of Reading Recovery are judged to be prima facie evidence that it may not be a cost-effective educational innovation. Further authentication in that regard, it is pointed out, are recent studies by disinterested researchers who report that: (a) the initial successes of Reading Recovery in helping disabled readers overcome their handicap are only temporary in nature, and (b) the majority of the precepts and procedures prescribed for Reading Recovery by Marie Clay reflect a top-down orientation to reading development, as does the Whole Language (WL) philosophy of reading attainment. Educators and school boards should take this orientation of Reading Recovery under advisement when considering its purchase, it is urged.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

REFERENCES

  1. Abbott, S.P., Reed, E., Abbott, R.D., & Berniger, V.W. (1997). Year-long balanced reading/writing tutorial: A design experiment used for dynamic assessment. Learning Disability Quarterly, 20, 249–263.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Adams, M.J. (1991). Why not phonics and whole language? In Orton Dyslexia Society (Ed.), All language and the creation of literacy (pp. 40–53). Baltimore, MD: Orton Dyslexia Society.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Adams, M.J. & Bruck, M. (1995). Resolving the "Great Debate." American Educator, 19(2), 7, 10–20.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Anderson, R.C., Hiebert, E.H., Scott, J.A., & Wilkinson, I.A.G. (1985). Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the commission on reading. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Barnes, B.B. (1997), But teacher you went right on: A perspective on Reading Recovery. Reading Teacher, 50, 284–292.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Beck, I. & Juel C. (1995). The role of decoding in learning to read. American Educator, 19(2), 8; 21-25; 39-42.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Blachman, B.A. (1989). Phonological awareness and word recognition. In A. G. Kamhi & H.W. Catts (Eds.), Reading Disabilities (pp. 133–158) Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bracy, G.W. (1995). Reading Recovery: Is it effective? Phil Delta Kapan, 76, 493–494.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Brady, S. & Shankweiler, D. (Eds.). (1991). Phonological processes in literacy. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  11. California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, et al. (1996). Teaching reading. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Carpenter, B. (Ed.). (1996). Reading Recovery task force report. San Diego, CA: San Diego County Office of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Center, Y., Whendall, K., & Freeman, L. (1992). Evaluating the effectiveness of Reading Recovery: A critique. Educational Psychology, 12, 263–273.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Center, Y., Whendall, K., Freeman, L., Outhred, L., & McNaught, M. (1995). An experimental evaluation of Reading Recovery. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 240–263.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Chall, J. S. (1967; 1983) Learning the read: The great debate. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Chall, J.S. (1995). Ahead to the Greeks. Issues in Education, 1,83–85.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Chapman, J.W., Tunmer, & W.E., Prochnow, J. E. (1998, April). Reading Recovery in relation to language factors, reading self-perceptions, classroom behavior difficulties and literacy achievement: A longitudinal study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

  18. Clay, M.M. (1985). The early detection of reading difficulties. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Clay, M.M. (1991). Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Clay, M.M. (1993a). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Clay, M.M. (1993b). Reading Recovery: A guidebook for teachers in training. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Collins, J.D. & Stevens, L.M. (1997). Does Reading Recovery work? American School Board Journal, 184(6), 38–39.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Dudley-Marley, C. (1996). Whole language, assumptions, and ideology: A response to Groff. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 12, 227–236.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Dudley-Marling, C. & Murphy, S. (1997). A political critique of Reading Recovery programs: An example of Reading Recovery. Reading Teacher, 50, 460–468.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Edelsky, C. (1990). Whose agenda is this anyway? A response to McKenna, Robinson, and Miller. Educational Researcher, 19(8). 7–11.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Ehri, L. C. (1994). Development of the ability to read words. In R. Ruddell & H. Singer (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (pp. 323–358). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Fincher, G. E. (1988). Reading Recovery and Chapter 1: A three-year comparative study. Canton, OH: Canton City Schools.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Foorman, B. R. (1995). Research on the Great Debate: Code-oriented versus whole-language approaches to reading instruction. School Psychology Review, 24, 276–292.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Glynn, T., Crooks, T., Bethune, N., Ballard, K., & Smith, J. (1989). Reading Recovery in context. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Goswanmi, U. & Bryant, P. (1990). Phonological skills and learning to read. Hove, England: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Gough, P. B., Ehri, L., & Treiman, R. (Eds.). (1992). Reading acquisition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Groff, P. (1983). A test of the utility of phonics rules. Reading Psychology, 4, 217–225.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Groff, P. (1994). Differing views on context cues. Interchange, 25, 171–181.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Groff, P. (1995). Reading Recovery: Educationally sound and cost-effective? Effective School Practices, 13(1) 65–69.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Groff, P. (1996a). An analysis of the empirical validity of Reading Recovery. In B. Carpenter (Ed.), Reading Recovery task force report (pp. 80–97). San Diego, CA: San Diego County Board of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Groff, P. (1996b). Whole language. It's a matter of a wrong assumption. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 12, 217–226.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Groff, P. & Seymour, D. Z. (1987). Word recognition: The why and the how. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Grossen B., Coulter, G., & Ruggles, B. (1996). Reading recovery: An evaluation of benefits and costs. Effective School Practices, 15(3), 6–24.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Harris, A.J. & Sipay, E.R. (1980). How to increase reading ability. New York, NY: Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Harrison, B., Zollner, J., & Magill, B. (1996). The hole in the whole language. Australian Journal of Remedial Education, 27(5), 6–18.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Hiebert, E.H. (1994). Reading Recovery in the United States: What difference does it make to an age cohort? Educational Researcher, 23(9), 15–25.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Honig, B. (1996). Teaching our children to read. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Hoover, W.A. & Gough, P.B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 127–160.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Hoover, W.A. & Tunmer, W.E. (1993). The components of reading. In G B. Thompson, W. E. Tunmer, & T. Nicholson (Eds.), Reading acquisition processes (pp. 1–19). Philadelphia, PA: Multilingual Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Iverson, S. & Tunmer, W.E. (1993). Phonological processing skills and the Reading Recovery program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 112–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Jorm, A.F. & Share, D. (1983). Phonological recoding and reading acquisition. Applied Psycholinguistics, 4, 103–147.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Klare, G.R. (1984). Readability. In P.D. Pearson (Ed.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 681–744), New York, NY: Longman.

  48. Liberman, I.Y. & Liberman, A.M. (1990). Whole language vs. Code emphasis: Underlying assumptions and their implications for reading instruction. Annals of Dyslexia, 40, 51–77.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Moustafa, M. (1997). Beyond traditional phonics. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Nicholson, T. (1989). Research note: A comment on Reading Recovery. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 24(1), 95–97.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Ohio Department of Education (1995). Longitudinal study of Reading Recovery, 1990-91 through 1993-94. Columbus, OH: Ohio Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Orton Dyslezia Society (Ed.). (1991). All language and the creation of literacy. Baltimore, MD: Orton Dyslexia Society.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Perfetti, C.A. (1985). Reading ability. New York, NY: Oxford University.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Pesetsky, D., & Melvold, J., et al. (1995, July 14). Letter to Robert V. Antonucci, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts Department of education from forty professors of linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive science, psychology, and neurology.

  55. Pressley, M. & Menke, D.J. (1994). State-of-the-science primary-grade reading instruction or whole language? Educational Psychologist, 29, 211–215.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Rasinski, T. (1995). On the effects of Reading Recovery. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 264–270.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Robinson, V. (1989). Some limitations of systematic adaptation: The implementation of Reading Recovery. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 24,35–45.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Ross, S.M., Smith, L.J., Carey, J., & Slavin, R.E. (1995). Increasing the academic success of disadvantaged children: An examination of alternative early intervention programs. American Educational Research Journal, 32, 773–800.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Sensenbaugh, R. (1994). Effectiveness of Reading Recovery programs. Reading Research and Instruction, 34, 73–76.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Shanahan, T. (1987). Review of The early detection of reading difficulties. Journal of Reading Behavior, 19, 117–119.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Shanahan, T. & Barr, R. (1995). Reading Recovery: An independent evaluation of the effects of an early instructional intervention for atrisk learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 958–996.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Share, D.L., & Stanovich, K.E. (1995). Cognitive processes in early reading development: Accommodating individual differences into a model of a acquisition. Issues in Education, 1, 1–57.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Smith, C. B. (Ed.). (1994). Whole language: The debate. Bloomington, IN: EDINFO, Indiana University.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Smith, C.J. (1993). Problems with reading. Support for Learning, 8(4), 139–145.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Smith, F. (1989). Overselling literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 70, 353–359.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Spieigel,(1995). A comparison of traditional remedial programs and Reading Recovery: Guidelines for success in all programs. Reading Teacher, 49, 86–96.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Stahl, S.A. & Miller, P.D. (1989). Whole language and language experience approaches for beginning reading: A quantitative research synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 59, 87–116.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Stanovich, K.E. (1994). Romance and reality. Reading Teacher, 47, 280–291.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Templeton, S. & Bear, D.R. (Eds.). (1992). Development of orthographic knowledge and the foundations of literacy. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Thompson, G.B., Tunmer, W.E., & Nicholson, T. (Eds.). (1993). Reading acquisition processes. Philadelphia, PA: Multilingual Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Truch, S. (1991). The missing parts of whole language. Calgary, Canada: Foothills Educational Materials.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Velluntino, R.R. & Scanlon, D.M. (1987). Phonological coding, phonological awareness, and reading ability: Evidence from a longitudinal and experimental study. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 33, 321–363.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Wake County Public School System. (1995). Evaluation report: WCPSS Reading Recovery 1990-94. Raleigh, NC: Wake County Public School System.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Wasik, B.S. & Slavin, R.E. (1993). Preventing early reading failure with one-to-one tutoring: A review of five programs. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 179–200.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Groff, P. A Critical Analysis of the Sources of Reading Recovery: An Empiricist Perspective. Interchange 35, 31–58 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:INCH.0000039021.15493.8d

Download citation

  • Reading teaching
  • reading recovery
  • Marie Clay
  • whole language
  • direct instruction
  • experimental research
  • qualitative research
  • reading development
  • beginning readers
  • remedial reading